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England's Title in Ireland 

My Lord, — I address this letter to your Lord- 
ship because you represent the Government of 
England in Ireland. I do not think that you 
will take amiss what I have to say. Were you 
allowed you would, I believe, discharge the 
duties of your office in sympathy with the 
national aspirations of the people you have 
been sent to rule ; to say less would be to 
impeach your character as a Governor with 
constitutional instincts. " All government," it 
has been well said, " without the consent of the 
governed is the very definition of slavery." 
You certainly do not desire to govern without 
the consent of the governed. Yet, in honest 
truth, you do so govern, if, indeed, it can 
be said that you govern at all. Your Excel- 
lency's position is an impossible one. You are a 
" constitutional ruler " in a country whose con- 
stitution has been destroyed. You represent a 
monarchy which rests on a Parliamentary title. 
But your office has survived Parliamentary in- 
stitutions in Ireland. The English monarchy 
is the embodiment of English nationality; the 
Irish Viceroyalty is the very negation of Irish 
national sentiment. Were you the representa- 
tive of an absolutist sovereign your position 
would be consistent, and might be strong. As 


the representative of a constitutional king it is 
inconsistent and hopelessly weak. 

An absolute ruler draws his strength from 
an oligarchy, but there is no oligarchy behind 
you. A constitutional sovereign draws his 
strength from the people, but the people are 
not behind you either. Forgive me, my Lord, 
but I cannot help saying it, the '* Irish" Govern- 
ment — queerly so called — is the most grotesque 
thing on earth. There is nothing like it, to 
paraphrase the words of Sydney Smith, "in 
Europe, Asia, Africa, or Timbuctoo." Honest 
and intelligent English administrators who go 
to Dublin Castle find out the incongruities, — the 
impossibilities, — of " Irish " government sooner 
or later. They think that they are practically 
going from one part of England to another, 
but they ultimately discover that Ireland is a 
discontented English dependency of distinct 
national growth — not an English shire, bound 
to England by ties of race, religion, and history. 
This discovery sometimes does the administrator 

"What made you a Home Ruler?" I asked 
the late Sir Robert Hamilton. He answered, 
"Soon after I went to Ireland a report was 
sent in from some district giving an account of 
an unsatisfactory state of things there. I really 
cannot recall the details. I was anxious not to 
act without further investigation. I said to the 
clerk, *Who is the member for this district?' 
He gave me the name. I instructed the clerk to 
write to that member, asking if he would 
kindly call upon me to talk the matter over. 
' Oh ! ' said the clerk, ' there will be no use in 
doing that; he would not come.' 'Why?' I 
asked. ' Oh ! ' he replied, ' no Irish members 
eould come to the Castle ; they would not have 


anything to do with us.' I was amazed. What 
I had desired him to do was the ordinary thing in 
England. To ask a Member of Parliament to 
give you his views with reference to some 
statement affecting his constituents is the most 
natural thing in the world. In fact, it is a very 
helpful way of carrying on the administration. 
But I discovered that this way could not be 
employed in Ireland. Those responsible for the 
administration of the country could not com- 
municate with those who represented the people 
of the country. Here was a wall built up be- 
tween the Government and the governed. The 
thing struck me as absurd. I felt it could not 
last, and that something would have to be done 
to bring the Government into harmony with the 
popular wishes. Talk of the government of the 
people by the people for the people ; no such 
government existed in Ireland." 

A sympathetic " Irish " Secretary on one occa- 
sion invited a distinguished Irish Member to 
dinner at the Chief Secretary's Lodge, to have 
a private talk on a matter of urgent public 
importance. " You asked me to dine with you," 
replied the Irish Member, "at the Chief Secre- 
tary's Lodge. Where is the Chief Secretary's 
Lodge?" '* I would lose my character," I once 
heard an Irish Member say in the House of 
Commons, "were I seen in the Castle Yard." 

The King of England is above all parties. 
His health is drunk at public assemblies in 
England where men of all parties come to- 
gether. It is a national toast. The Irish Vice- 
roy is always a party man. His health is not 
drunk at national gatherings in Ireland. It 
is not a national toast. The health of the King 
of England himself is not drunk at national 
gatherings in Ireland. It is not a national 


toast there. There is nothing personal in all 
this ; far from it, so far as the present English 
sovereign is concerned, for men regard him as 
a ruler animated by just and humane senti- 
ments in his dealings with nations. "... That 
the Irishman should not love the English . . .' 
says Robert Louis Stevenson, "is not disgrace- 
ful to the nature of man, rather, indeed, honour- 
able, since it depends on wrongs ancient like the 
race, and not personal to him who cherishes the 

Why do we cherish the indignation ? To 
answer this question I must ask another, 
perhaps even two questions : First, what is 
England's title in Ireland? Second, Does it 
rest on moral grounds? In answering these 
questions we shall get at the root of the whole 
subject; but I must beg your Lordship's in- 
dulgence, for I have to appeal to history, a 
tribunal from which English statesmen, in 
dealing with Ireland, shrink, but which I believe 
your Lordship has the courage and the sense 
of justice to face. " Politics," says Professor 
Seely, " are vulgar when they are not liberalised 
by history." The Irish politics of the English 
statesmen are not so liberalised. The occupants 
of the front benches in the House of Commons 
are present to my mind. There are scarcely 
three of them who could pass a respectable 
competitive examination in Irish history. I 
knew the late Mr. Gladstone. He devoted 
himself earnestly to the cause of Ireland 
in the latter years of his life, but he knew 
little of Irish history. He was frank, he was 
courageous ; he would not deny the fact.' He 
once said to me, " I am bound to say that I did 
not know as much about the way the Union was 
carried when I took up Home Rule as I came to 


know afterwards. If I had known so much I 
would have been more earnest and extreme. 
The union with Ireland has no moral force. 
It has the force of law, no doubt, but it rests 
on no moral basis. That is the line which I 
should always take were I an Irishman. That 
is the line which, as an Englishman, I take 
now." And again he said, "You know we 
thought that the Irish question was settled 
(in 1870). There was the Church Act and the 
Land Act, and there was a time of peace and 
prosperity, and I frankly confess that we did 
not give as much attention to Ireland as we 
ought to have done." 

Mr. Gladstone was the foremost Englishman 
of his age. He had entered the House of 
Commons in 1832. He must have heard the 
remarkable debates on Ireland which took place 
in 1833-31:. He must have heard the equally 
remarkable debates which took place during the 
Melbourne Administration, 1835-41. He lived 
through the Repeal movement and the Tenant 
League Agitation of 1850-55. Yet he scarcely 
gave Ireland a thought until 1867-68. That a 
man of such just and generous instincts as Mr. 
Gladstone, filling responsible positions in the 
administration of public affairs, should have 
remained for all those years in ignorance of the 
urgency of the Irish question is a fact of extra- 
ordinary significance. Mr. Gladstone repre- 
sented more faithfully than almost any man 
who has sat in the English Parliament since 
1832 the current of practical thought in English 
legislation. That he should have deemed Ire- 
land unworthy of his attention, for the best 
part of his public life, is the strongest proof we 
can have of the neglect — the criminal neglect — 
with which Ireland has been treated by the 


responsible statesmen of England. I have 
before me a list of the Prime Ministers of 
England since 1832. There was hardly one of 
them who could have passed a successful com- 
petitive examination in Irish history. There 
were only two of them who, in any degree, 
possessed the confidence of the Irish people, 
or who tried strenuously to do anything for 
Ireland — Lord Melbourne (1835-41), who was 
kept in office by the Irish vote ; and Mr. Glad- 
stone, whose interest in Ireland was first 
awakened by the Fenian organisation, and re- 
awakened by the Land League, and who was 
placed in office by the Irish vote in 1866 and 
kept in office by the Irish vote from 1893 to 
1891. I have also before me a list of the 
*' Irish " Lord-Lieutenants and Chief Secretaries 
since 1832. There were in all some twenty- 
three Lord-Lieutenants ; not one of them, of 
course, was a Catholic, for to this day any man 
professing the religion of the nation cannot be 
the governor of the nation. There were only 
three Irishmen — tame Irishmen, out of sym- 
pathy with the people. There were only two of 
the entire number who possessed the popular 
confidence — Lord Mulgrave (the choice of Lord 
Melbourne in 1835), and Lord Aberdeen (the 
Home Rule Lord-Lieutenant of 1886). Of 
some thirty Chief Secretaries, five only were 
Irish, tame Irish ; none were Catholics. Two 
only possessed the confidence of the people — 
Lord Morpeth (the Melbourne Chief Secretary) 
and Mr. Morley (the Home Rule Chief Secre- 
tary). The noble figure of Thomas Drummond 
overtops all the Irish administrators. He strove 
strenuously (1835-40) to govern the country in 
accordance with popular opinion. From the 
day of his arrival to the day of his death he 


was denounced by the English Ascendency. 
Drummond perished in the service of Ireland, 
struggling to the last to stem the torrent of 
injustice, ignorance, and folly, which ultimately 
swept him to the grave. The story of his life is 
a proof of the hopelessness of any man attempt- 
ing to rule Ireland in accordance with Irish 
opinion while he holds office at the mercy of an 
English Parliament. Suppose, my Lord, that 
England had been conquered by Spain in 1588, 
and that between 1832 and 1901, at the end of 
centuries of dominion, England had, in the 
main, been ruled by Spanish Grandees, all 
Catholics, out of sympathy with the people, 
ignorant of their history, indifferent to their 
wants, disregarding their cherished traditions, 
despising their national aspirations, ignoring 
their religion, and refusing to do them justice, 
except under the pressure of fear — what would 
the world think of Spain? What would the 
English do ? 

The following is not a description of a depen- 
dency of Spain or Russia, but a description of a 
dependency of England given seven hundred 
years after its " conquest." " I do not believe," 
said Mr. Chamberlain in a famous speech in 
1885, *'that the great majority of Englishmen 
have the slightest conception of the system 
under which this free nation attempts to rule 
the sister country. It is a system which is 
founded on the bayonets of thirty thousand 
soldiers encamped permanently as in a hostile 
country. It is a system as completely cen- 
tralised and bureaucratic as that with which 
Russia governs Poland, or as that which pre- 
vailed in Venice under the Austrian rule. An 
Irishman at this moment cannot move a step — 
he cannot lift a finger in any parochial, muni- 


cipal, or educational work without being 
confronted with, interfered with, controlled by 
an English official, appointed by a foreign 
Government, and without a shade or shadow 
of representative authority." The conqueror of 
whom this can be said, centuries after the con- 
quest, stands condemned before the tribunal of 
history. The English show much wisdom in the 
management of their affairs all over the world. 
Why are they such utter fools in Ireland ? 
"Irish writers," says Mr. Richey (I quote the 
substance of his words), "are fond of charging 
the English Government with tyranny and 
violence. But that is not the charge that I 
bring against them. The charge that I bring 
against them is imbecility." 

What, then, is England's title in Ireland? 
Conquest ? — a bad title a priori^ for it rests on 
physical force. Conquest by physical force, I 
admit, may ultimately come to have moral 
sanction — the only good title to the existence 
of any government. But has the government 
of the English in Ireland this sanction ? That 
is the rub. The plea of the conqueror is always 
a specious one. He is not honest. He is not 
truthful. He says to the people whose national 
existence he means to destroy, "I do not come 
to injure you ; quite the contrary. I come to 
make you happy. I come to destroy the bad 
government under which you live. The men of 
your own nation do not know how to govern 
you. I can govern you. I understand you. I 
am your friend. I come to establish law and 
order, to civilise you, to elevate you spiritually, 
to enrich you materially, to make you blessed, 
prosperous, and free. You will find me a guar- 
dian angel." That the people should reply, 
" Angel or devil, we don't want you. We want 


to be left to ourselves, to develop on our own 
lines, to work out our own destiny, in our own 
way " — that the people should say these things 
does not affect him. He replies, " But it is 
good for you that I should come," and he comes 
and he kills and he plunders and he stays, and 
he says to the conquered, "You must have my 
laws and my institutions, my religion, my lan- 
guage, my dress, my customs, my manners. 
You must do all these things as I do them, and 
if you refuse I will break you on the wheel." 

I do not say that there are not exceptions to 
this general rule of the conqueror's policy. 
There is a notable exception, which recent events 
have brought to our minds — the case of Russia 
and Finland. Russia conquered Finland in 1809 ; 
it was called the "cession " of Finland to Russia 
— a pretty diplomatic phrase. This conquest 
obtained moral sanction by treaty rights. The 
compact between the two countries was : a 
common sovereign, and, for the rest, political 
autonomy. Finns, representing the public 
opinion of Finland, administered the affairs 
of Finland. Finnish laws and customs were 
observed, the Finnish religion was respected 
and recognised, the Finnish language was 
the language of the Finnish State and the 
Finnish people. The Finns w^ere loyal to 
the Russian connection ; they were happy, 
prosperous, and free. For nearly a century 
this compact was honourably kept. Then in 
a moment of madness it was broken, to the 
shame of the Russian Government. The 
case of Russia and Finland was, I say, a 
case of conquest obtaining moral sanction by 
treaty rights. But the treaty has been broken, 
the moral sanction is gone, and the whole 
civilised world would hail, and ought to hail, 


with joy the destruction of the Russian power 
in Finland. How far the conquest of Ireland 
by England has ever received any moral 
sanction I shall now consider. 


*'The evils of Ireland," said Lord Palmer- 
ston, "may be traced to the history of Ire- 
land." "The history of Ireland," said Lord 
Shelbourne, "is the history of English policy 
in Ireland.*' This latter statement is not quite 
accurate. Ireland had a history — a brilliant 
history — before an Englishman landed on her 
shores. But so far as the history of the last 
seven hundred years is concerned the statement 
is true enough. 

The idea of the average Englishman — the 
average intelligent Englishman — about Ireland 
is that the Irish were wild, naked savages, 
wandering through forests and bogs, until the 
English came to feed, clothe, and reclaim them. 
Were you to tell the Englishman of this type 
that the Irish were civilised and Christianised 
when the Anglo-Saxon was still in barbaric 
darkness he would laugh at you. Were you 
to go further and tell him that the Anglo-Saxon 
owed his own reclamation largely to the labours 
of Irishmen, he would think you were a fool. 
I remember, my Lord, some thirty years ago, 
when I first came to England, dining one night 
with some English friends. In the course of 
conversation I happened, casually, to mention 
the Brehon Law. There was a burst of laughter. 
" How ridiculous," said our host, " talking of 
the Brehon Law. I should like to know 
(contemptuously) what the Brehon Law was." 
I tried to explain, and to say something about 


Irish civilisation, but there was a fire of raillery 
which soon put me out of action. I might as 
well have spoken of the early civilisation of the 
Kingdom of Dahomey. It so happened that 
about this time Sir Henry Maine had published 
his admirable book on "The Early History of 
Institutions." The day following the dinner I 
possessed myself of the book and went with it, 
in hand, to my host. "Now," I said to him, 
"when I spoke of the Brehon Law last night, 
you all laughed." " Certainly," he said, " we 
did. How ridiculous you Irish are ! Why, you 
had no laws till we came amongst you." I said, 
"Look at this book, a history of early Aryan 
institutions, by a great English jurist. What is 
it chiefly about, do you think ? " Of course he 
did not know. I said, "Three-fourths of this 
book are practically about the Brehon Law at 
which you were all laughing last night." I had 
been put out of action then, but I put my friend 
out of action now. Yet he was not converted. 
He relapsed in a few months and was as bad as 
ever. His respect for the Irish did not increase, 
but I rather fancy his respect for Sir Henry 
Maine diminished. 

There is nothing so painful for a conqueror as 
to be told that he is not the author of all that is 
good in the conquered. It is still more painful 
for him to be told that he is the author of much 
that is evil. 

I am not, my Lord, going to dwell on the 
subject of early Irish civilisation. I am not, 
indeed, going to dwell upon any particular 
period of Irish history. My object simply is, 
to deal briefly with historical facts in order to 
see how far they throw light on the question-— 
Is there any moral sanction for the govern- 
ment of England in Ireland? I touch upon 


the subject of early civilisation simply to point 
out that the Irish needed no conquering hand to 
carry on the work of civilisation among them ; 
that they were themselves capable of rising — 
and did rise — to the highest point of civilisation 
attainable in the early centuries of the Christian 
era. You are no doubt familiar with Sir Henry 
Maine's able and interesting book. It will bear 
re-reading again and again. I shall now take 
the liberty of directing your Excellency's atten- 
tion to another book which has recently been 
published — one of the best books, I think, ever 
written about Ireland — Dr. Joyce's "Social 
History of Ancient Ireland." This book is 
valuable not only for the original research 
which it shows, and for the new facts which 
it brings to light, but also because it collects 
old facts for which one had previously to search 
in many directions, and in directions not acces- 
sible to the ordinary reader. 

Were you to tell an Englishman that St. 
Patrick had come to Ireland in 432, and that 
St. Augustine did not come to England until 
597, he would not believe it. The idea of our 
old friend the average intelligent Englishman, 
probably, is that St. Augustine converted St. 
Patrick, and then sent St. Patrick to convert 
the Irish. That Patrick had converted the Irish 
before Augustine was heard of; that Irish 
missionaries under the direction of Columba 
settled in lona ; and that from thence, as well 
as from Ireland, Irish missionaries went forth 
to shed the light of Christianity throughout 
Britain and Europe, he would regard as a 
grotesque Irish exaggeration. Yet such is the 
fact; and the authorities will be found in Mr. 
Joyce. Let me quote some of them ; I shall 
begin with Montalembert : "Forty-eight years 


after Augustine and his Roman monks landed 
on the shores of pagan England, an Anglo- 
Saxon Prince (Oswald) invoked the aid of the 
monks of lona in the conversion of the Saxons 
of the North. . . . The spiritual conquest of the 
island (Britain), abandoned for a time by the 
Roman missionaries, was now about to be taken 
up by the Celtic monks. The Italians (under 
Augustine) had made the first step, and the 
Irish now appeared to resume the uncompleted 
work. What the sons of St. Benedict could only 
begin, was to be completed by the sons of St. 
Columba. ... Of the eight kingdoms of the 
Anglo-Saxon Confederation, that of Kent alone 
was exclusively won and retained by the Roman 
monks." Let me quote Dr. Lightfoot, the Pro- 
testant Bishop of Durham. Having said that 
lona was the cradle of English Christianity, he 
proceeds : — 

" Though nearly forty years had elapsed since 
Augustine's first landing in England, Christianity 
was still confined to its first conquest, the south- 
east corner of the island, the Kingdom of Kent. 
. . . Then commenced those thirty years of 
earnest, energetic labour, carried on by those 
Celtic missionaries and their disciples, from 
Lindisfarne, as their spiritual citadel, which 
ended in the submission of England to the 
gentle yoke of Christ." Again, for Aidan he 
claims " the first place in the evangelisation of 
our race. Augustine was the Apostle of Kent, 
but Aidan was the Apostle of England." 

Dr. Joyce does well in quoting the opinion of 
Spenser, with reference to the early civilisation 
of Ireland. Spenser, of course, is not an autho- 
rity on the subject, but, as Dr. Joyce says, it is 
well to learn what cultivated Englishmen of the 
sixteenth century had to say upon the matter. 


" It is certain that Ireland hath had the use of 
letters very eminently and long before England. 
Whence they had those letters it is hard to say ; 
for whether they at their first coming into 
the land or afterwards by trading wdth other 
nations which had letters, learned of them or 
devised them among themselves, is very doubt- 
ful ; but that they had letters anciently is 
nothing doubtful, for the Saxons of England 
are said to have their letters and learning and 
learned them from the Irish, and that also 
appeareth by the likenesse of the character, 
for the Saxon character is the same with the 

But I must not labour the point. Suffice it 
to say that from the death of St. Patrick to the 
arrival of the Danes the progress of Ireland 
in religion and civilisation, in art, music, litera- 
ture, and laws, was rapid and remarkable. 
Churches and monasteries, schools and colleges 
sprang up everywhere throughout the land. 
Irish missionaries went forth to preach the 
Gospel in many countries, and to win converts 
for the faith of Christ. Irish scholars filled 
the world with their fame, and Irish schools 
attracted students from the most civilised parts 
of Europe. 

I have said that on one occasion I drew upon 
myself a fire of raillery by mentioning the 
Brehon Law. It was not the only occasion 
on which I exposed myself to the artillery of 
English wit and humour. One day I mentioned 
the name of King Brian in the company of 
English friends. His name was the signal for 
unmixed merriment. They regarded Brian as 
a mythical character, and that I should have 
treated him as a historical character excited 
unbounded hilarity. I said, '* I do not laugh 


at your Egbert." They replied, " Oh ! Egbert ; 
that is a very different thing — but Brian Boru," 
and then there was a roar of laughter. " Yet," 
I said, " Brian has been called ' the Egbert of 
Ireland.' " I might have added that I knew 
something of Egbert, but that my excellent 
English friends knew nothing of Brian. 

Brian, my Lord, was, in truth, one of the 
most remarkable men of those early days. And 
we have the authentic story of his life written 
by his own secretary. I cannot ask your Lord- 
ship to read this book — " The Wars of the 
Gaedhil with the Gaell." You probably would 
not have time ; but you might read the intro- 
duction of the translator, Dr. Todd, of Trinity 
College, Dublin. You might also read " The 
Norse Saga Burnt NjaL" I once heard a dis- 
tinguished British authority say that nothing 
could better show what a real historic personage 
Brian was than the mention made of him, and 
the high tribute paid to his abilities and virtues, 
in the Saga in question. 

The work of Brian's life is comprised within 
the years 968 to 1014, when he rallied his people, 
overthrew the Danes, imposed his will upon the 
Provincial Kings and Princes, strengthened the 
Central Monarchy, consolidated the country, 
and devoted himself to the arts of good govern- 
ment. He made Ireland a Nation. That was 
the achievement of his life. *' The lesson taught 
by the monks," says Mr. Gardner, speaking of 
King Egbert, " was one which men are slow 
to learn. The whole of England was full of 
bloodshed and confusion. The Kings were 
perpetually fighting with one another. Some- 
times one, sometimes another would have the 
upper hand. At last Egbert, the King of the 
West Saxons, subdued all the others." 



What Egbert did for England, Brian in his 
day did in large measure for Ireland. 

I shall shock the English critic when I say 
that during the whole period of the Anglo- 
Norman settlement, from the coming of Strong- 
bow to the accession of the Tudors, Ireland 
never reached the same stage of political 
development arrived at in the days of Brian. 
Yet this is true. We know that the growth 
of a nation is slow, and that great men play 
great parts in the building of nations, for it 
needs a strong man to break up the territorial 
divisions which hinder national development. 
The division of Ireland into four provincial 
kingdoms was the curse of the country — a 
curse, however, not peculiar to Ireland, for 
England had her Heptarchy, and other coun- 
tries had their divisions too. The provincial 
divisions of Ireland led, as in similar cases in 
other lands, to mischievous internal disturb- 
ances. It was the merit of Brian's govern- 
ment that he curbed provincial kings and 
gave an impetus to national unification. 
It was disastrous to Ireland that he fell 
before his work was completed. Brian laid 
the foundation of a strong national monarchy ; 
and, had his son, Murrough — a man of re- 
markable ability — and his grandson, Tur- 
lough — a youth of great promise — lived to 
finish the work, the whole current of Irish 
history might have been changed ; but they all 
fell at the battle of Clontarf. Brian had no 
worthy successor ; and the progress of national 
development was checked by his death. Such 
mischances, however, have not been uncommon 
in other lands. The ebb and flow of national 
development fluctuate in all countries in the 
early stages of civilisation. "The development 


of the State," as Mr. Wyndham has recently- 
said, "has (not) proceeded without breach of 
continuity." The misfortune of Ireland was 
that in a moment of national weakness — in 
a moment when the continuity of political 
development was broken — a wave of foreign 
invasion — the Anglo-Norman Settlement — came 
to stop the revival of national life. With 
the Anglo-Norman Settlement, and its moral 
sanctions, I shall now deal. 


I HAVE said that the misfortune of Ireland 
was that in a moment of National weakness — 
in a moment when the continuity of political 
development was broken— a wave of foreign 
invasion — the Anglo-Norman Settlement — came 
to stop the revival of national life. '* Not 
at all," says the English critic ; " the Anglo- 
Norman Settlement was the salvation of Ire- 
land." I shall answer the English critic by 
the production of authorities which even he 
will respect. 

1st. First let me take Mr. Richey, the emi- 
nent historian. "In the twelfth century the 
Irish Celts were in a state of political disorgani- 
sation, but they still had a feeling of nation- 
ality, and had the form, at least, of a national 
monarchy, and justice, criminal and civil, was 
administered among them, according to a defi- 
nite code of law." Again, " The English Govern- 
ment during this period (1368) was a source of 
unmixed evil to the country. The English 
Kings had practically abolished the exercise of 
Sovereign power in Ireland. . . . The English 
Executive neither fulfilled the duty of a Govern- 
ment nor permitted any other to be established* 


Their highest aim was self-preservation ; and 
the means by which they sought it were the 
fomenting of civil war between the Barons 
and Chiefs outside the Pale, the rendering of 
assistance to any pretender who promised to 
embarrass or depose a tribal chieftain, and fre- 
quent raids equally barbarous and futile." 
Again, " At the commencement of the sixteenth 
century there remained no tradition of national 
unity, no trace of an organisation by which 
they could be welded into one people ; the Celtic 
population had found the rule of England 
scarcely less injurious to them than the inva- 
sions of the Danes." But, my Lord, these quota- 
tions do not represent the worst aspects of the 
case from the English point of view ; for there 
were not only disorders fomented by the English 
generally, " but," says Mr. Richey, " of all the 
inhabitants of Ireland, those under the imme- 
diate government of the English King were 
the most miserable." 

2nd. Next, I shall quote Hallam, who specu- 
lates on what might have happened if the 
Normans had not come : — " We may be led by 
the analogy of other countries to think it prob- 
able that if Ireland had not tempted the 
cupidity of her neighbours, there would have 
arisen in the course of time some Egbert or 
Harold Harfager to consolidate the provincial 
Kingdoms into one hereditary monarchy." 

3rd. I shall quote Sir Henry Maine : — " The 
Anglo-Norman Settlement acted like a run- 
ning sore on the east coast of Ireland, con- 
stantly irritating the Celtic regions beyond the 
Pale, and deepening the confusion which pre- 
vailed there. If the country had been left to 
itself, one of the great Irish tribes would most 
certainly have conquered the rest." 


dth. I shall quote Mr. Lecky : — 

"The English rule as a living reality was 
confined and concentrated in the narrow limits 
of the Pale. The hostile power planted in the 
heart of the nation destroyed all possibility of 
central government, while it was itself incapable 
of fulfilling that function. Like a spear-point 
embedded in a living body, it inflamed all 
around it, and deranged every vital function. 
It prevented the gradual reduction of the island 
by some native Clovis, which would necessarily 
have taken place if the Anglo-Normans had not 
arrived, and instead of that peaceful and almost 
silent amalgamation of races, customs, laws, 
and languages which took place in England, and 
which is the source of many of the best elements 
in English life and character, the two nations 
remained in Ireland for centuries in hostility." 

Next, I shall quote Sir John Davies, who has 
perhaps drawn up the weightiest indictment of 
all against the English Conqueror in Ireland : — 

" It is manifest that such as had the Govern- 
ment of Ireland under the Crown of England 
did intend to make perpetual separation and 
enmity between the English (Anglo-Normans) 
and Irish, pretending, no doubt, that the Eng- 
lish should in the end root out the Irish, which 
the English not being able to do, did cause per- 
petual war between the nations." And, lastly, 
I shall refer to an epitome of the views of the 
same writer cited by Mr. Lecky: "Too weak 
to introduce order and obedience, the English 
authority was yet sufficient to check the growth 
of any enterprising genius among the natives ; 
and though it could bestow no true form of civil 
government, it was able to prevent the rise of 
any such form." 

I need not press the point further, The " con- 


queror " who could not establish a settled 
Government, but who could prevent its es- 
tablishment by any one else ; who could not 
promote the development of the State, but who 
could prevent it, can lay no claim to the sanc- 
tions of morality for his presence in a land 
where, after centuries of trial, he was still hated 
and defied. I do not say that the Norman 
Settlement in itself would necessarily have 
proved an evil to Ireland. Under certain con- 
ditions it might even have been conceivably 
beneficial. Had Normans and Celts been allowed 
to fuse in Ireland as Norman and Saxon had 
fused in England, a strong Irish nation would 
have been built up, as a strong English nation 
had been built up in similar circumstances. But 
it is notorious that the policy of England was 
to prevent the fusion of Celt and Norman, 
and to check the political development of the 
country. Let me put a case. England was 
fortunate in her conquest by the Normans. But 
had France been strong enough to interfere 
with William I. to prevent the fusion of races 
and to check the national growth, then the 
Norman Conquest would have been a curse 
instead of a blessing. Unfortunately for Ire- 
land, England was strong enough to do in that 
country what France was not strong enough to 
do in England. She interfered Avith Norman 
and Celt at every turn, tried to prevent the 
fusion of the two races, and checked the 
national growth. Scarcely in the history of 
the world is there another instance where the 
conqueror was so incapable of good, and so 
capable of evil, as in the case of the English 
*' conqueror " in Ireland during the four and a 
half centuries which followed the arrival of 


I have said that during these centuries Eng- 
land established no moral claim to the posses- 
sion of Ireland. In fact, she did not establish a 
physical claim, for at the commencement of the 
sixteenth century her power was almost wholly 
destroyed. Practically she then held only Dub- 
lin and a ring around it. On the accession of 
Henry VII. the struggle was renewed, and in 
1511 the Irish made peace with Henry VIII. 

Henry VII., my Lord, was a statesman. 
When he was told that all Ireland could not 
govern the Earl of Kildare he said, "Then 
let the Earl of Kildare govern all Ireland." 
I remember once telling this story to Cardinal 
Manning. He said, shaking his finger in cha- 
racteristic fashion, " Very wise, very wise ; 
Ireland should be governed by those who know 
Ireland and whom Ireland trusts. If the 
English connection does not rest on this 
principle it cannot rest on any principle of 
justice or sound policy." 

The policy of the first two Tudors was not 
to " root out " the Irish, as the policy of their 
predecessors had been. It has been said that, 
as these Tudors had Celtic blood in their veins, 
they were sympathetic to the Irish. I know 
not how this may be. I know not, indeed, in 
what direction the sympathies of Henry VIII. 
ran ; but I think it is highly probable that the 
Celtic blood in the veins of father and son 
enabled them at all events to see somebody 
else's point of view as well as their own — a 
thing which the pure-blooded Anglo-Saxon 
never can see. In 1540-41 Henry VIII. had to 
face this situation. The Irish had carried on 
a fierce war against his father and himself. 
The question now was, should this war be con- 
tinued to the bitt-er end, or should peace be 


made on terms which would preserve the 
English connection, and at the same time save 
the Irish race from destruction or spoliation? 
Henry VIII. had many troubles besides the 
Irish trouble, and he was willing to make 
peace on those conditions. 

The feeling of the Irish — of some of the 
Irish Chiefs at all events — seems to have been 
that the war should be carried on until the 
foreigner was utterly driven out, but, as so 
often happens in similar cases, more moderate 
counsels ultimately prevailed. Some of the Irish 
Chiefs went to London to see Henry himself. 
They talked over terms of peace with the English 
Monarch. Henry proposed in effect that he 
should be acknowledged King of Ireland, that 
is to say, that the two countries should be 
united under a common Crown. For the rest, 
that Ireland should practically have political 
autonomy. The Feudal system was to be 
adopted instead of the Tribal system, but Irish 
Chiefs were not to be despoiled of their terri- 
tories ; there was to be no confiscation, no 
planting of needy English adventurers thirsting 
for spoil. These terms the Irish chiefs ulti- 
mately accepted, and the Parliament of 1541 
was summoned to ratify them. I make no 
reference to other Acts, relating to religion, 
manners, customs, language. Those Acts were 
really of no practical account. Of course there 
were no doctrinal changes in religion, and the 
people kept their manners, customs, language. 
Archbishop Brown (Henry's Archbishop) said 
High Mass in Dublin to celebrate the peace, and 
the King's Speech in Parliament was read in 
Irish as well as in English. 

The question now arises, did this peace give 
moral sanction to the English connection ? 


There are those who say that it did not, 
because that the Irish Chiefs were not authorised 
by the Irish tribes to make it. On the other 
hand, there are those who say that it did, 
because that the Parliament of 1541 was a 
thoroughly representative assembly, and that 
the Chiefs were entitled to speak for the people. 
But, my Lord, we need not trouble ourselves 
about the controversy, because the peace was 
broken almost as soon as the breath was out 
of the body of Henry VIII. The first breach 
was made in it by Edward YI. The breach was 
widened by Mary. It was made irreparable by 
Elizabeth. The territories of Leix and Offaly 
were confiscated in the reign of Mary. Leix 
and Offaly were converted into English Shires, 
and a horde of English settlers were imported 
to take the place of the plundered natives. 

The wars of Elizabeth were barbarous in the 
last extreme ; the policy of her Ministers was 
cruel, treacherous, and bloodthirsty. Many 
pleasant things cannot be said of Henry VIII. 
I am, therefore, all the more anxious to em- 
phasise the fact that he kept the peace of 1541 
to the day of his death. Afterwards the policy 
of extermination and confiscation which he 
strenuously refused to adopt was carried out 
by his successors with ruthless rapacity. " The 
warfare which ensued," says Mr. Richey, "re- 
sembled that waged by the early settlers in 
America with the native tribes. No mercy 
whatever was shown to the natives, no act of 
treachery was considered dishonourable, no 
personal tortures and indignities were spared 
to the captors." " The suppression of the native 
race," says Mr. Lecky, "in the wars against 
Shane O'Neil, Desmond, and Tyrone was carried 
on with a ferocity which surpassed that of 


Alva in the Netherlands, and has seldom been 
exceeded in the page of history. . . . The 
slaughter of Irishmen was looked upon as 
literally the slaughter of wild beasts. Not only 
the men, but even the women and children who 
fell into the hands of the English were de- 
liberately and systematically butchered. The 
sword was not found sufficient. But another 
method was found more efficacious. Year after 
year, over a great part of all Ireland, all means 
of human subsistence was destroyed ; no quarter 
was given to persons who surrendered, and the 
whole population was skilfully and steadily 
starved to death. The pictures of the condition 
of Ireland at this time are as terrible as any- 
thing in human history." And all this, my 
Lord, in pursuance of a well-defined policy. 
" The Government," continues Mr. Lecky, 
"believed that the one efficient policy for 
making Ireland useful to England was, in the 
words of Sir John Davis, to root out the Irish 
from the soil, to confiscate the property of the 
Septs, and to plant the country systematically 
with English tenants." 

In 1602 the Irish Chiefs were beaten at Kin- 
sale, and the " rebellion " of O'Neil and O'Donnell 
was crushed. In the reign of James I. the 
territories of O'Neil and O'Donnell in Ulster 
were confiscated, and Ulster was planted. It 
is the opinion of Mr. Richey that all subsequent 
troubles may be traced to the Plantation of 
Ulster. It led to the Rebellion of 1641 ; the 
Rebellion of 1611 led to the Cromwellian War 
and settlement ; and the Cromwellian War and 
settlement led to the Rebellion of 1689-91. 

I do not think that it needs much argument 
to satisfy your Excellency that from the reign 


of Edward VI. to the fall of James II. there 
was a year when it could be said that the 
English Government in Ireland rested on any 
moral sanction. Let me quote Mr. Gardner, 
Edmund Burke, and Mr. Lecky on the morality 
of the plantation of Ulster. 

Mr. Gardner : — " Six counties w^ere declared to 
be forfeited to the Crown under an artificial 
treason law which had no hold on the Irish 
conscience. English and Scotch colonists were 
brought in to occupy the richest parts of the 
soil. The children of the land were thrust 
forth to find what sustenance they could on 
the leavings of the intruders, and were debarred 
even the poor privilege of serving the new 
settlers for fear lest they should be tempted 
to fall upon their masters unawares." 

Edmund Burke : — '' Unheard-of confiscations 
were made in the Northern parts upon grounds 
of plots and conspiracies never proved upon 
their supposed authors. The war of chicane 
succeeded to the war of arms and of hostile 
statutes ; a regular series of operations were 
carried on in the ordinary Courts of Justice, 
and by Special Commissions and inquisitions ; 
first under the jDretence of tenures, and then 
of titles in the Crown, for the purpose of the 
total extirpation of the interest of the natives 
in their own soil — until this species of ravage 
being carried to the last excess of oppression 
and insolence ... it kindled the flames of that 
Rebellion which broke out in 16J:1." 

Mr. Lecky : — " It had become clear beyond all 
doubt to the native population that the old 
scheme of rooting them out from the soil was 
the settled policy of the Government ; that the 
land which remained to them was marked as a 
prey by hungry adventurers, by the refuse of 


the population of England and Scotland, by men 
who cared no more for then- rights and happi- 
ness than they did for the worms severed by 
their own spades." So much for the morality 
of the Plantation of Ulster. 

Finally, let me quote Mr. Lecky on the 
morality of the Cromwellian settlement. Hav- 
ing stated on the authority of Petty that "a 
third of the population had been blotted out" 
by the war, he proceeds : — " Above all, the great 
end at which the English adventurers had been 
steadily aiming since the reign of Elizabeth 
was accomplished. All, or almost all, of the 
lands of the Irish in the three largest and 
richest provinces were confiscated, and divided 
among those adventurers who had lent money 
to the Parliament and among the Puritan 
soldiers whose pay was greatly in arrear. The 
Irish who were considered least guilty were 
assigned land in Connaught, and that province, 
which rock and morass have doomed to a per- 
petual poverty, and which was at this time 
almost desolated by famine and by massacre, 
was assigned as the home of the Irish race. 
The confiscations were arranged under different 
categories ; but they were of such a nature 
that scarcely any Catholic or even old Pro- 
testant landlord could escape. . . . Papists, 
who, during the whole of the long war had 
never borne arms against the Parliament, but 
who had not manifested ' a constant good 
affection' towards it, were to be deprived of 
their estates, but were to receive two-thirds 
of the value in Connaught. Under this head 
were included all who lived quietly in their 
houses in quarters occupied by rebels or by 
the King's troops, who had paid taxes to the 
rebels or to the King after the rupture with 


the Parliament, who had abstained from actively 
supporting the cause of the Parliament. Such 
a confiscation was practically universal. The 
ploughmen and the labourers who were neces- 
sary for the cultivation of the soil were suffered 
to remain, but all the old proprietors, all the 
best and greatest names in Ireland, were com- 
pelled to abandon their old possessions, to seek 
a home in Connaught or in some happier land 
beyond the sea. A very large proportion of 
them had committed no crime whatever, and 
it is probable that not a sword would have been 
drawn in Ireland in rebellion, if those who ruled 
it had suffered the natives to enjoy their lands 
and their religion in peace. The Cromwellian 
settlement is the foundation of that deep and 
lasting division between the proprietary and the 
tenants which is the chief cause of the political 
and social evils of Ireland." 

An estimable gentleman who recently wrote 
a book upon Ireland urged the Irish people to 
forget the past. But the past which has made 
the present, and may make the future, cannot 
be forgotten. 


The "Rebellion" of 1689-91 was ended by 
the Treaty of Limerick. The terms of the 
treaty may be summed up in a sentence. 
They came substantially to this; England and 
Ireland were to remain united under a common 
crown ; for the rest, the Irish were to have 
political autonomy, civil and religious liberty, 
and the possession of their estates. Again, the 
question arises. Did the Treaty of Limerick 
give moral sanction to the English connection? 
and, again, we are spared the trouble of discuss- 
ing the subject, because the treaty was broken 


almost as soon as the ink on it was dry. Never 
was there a better opportunity given to a con- 
queror for making peace with the conquered 
on just, wise, and honourable tenns than was 
afforded by the termination of the Rebellion of 
1689-91. William III. grasped the situation 
and offered terms which were alike creditable 
to victor and vanquished. He was a statesman. 
He believed in winning, not in forcing the 
allegiance of a conquered people. Not so the 
English Parliament and the English colonists 
in Ireland. Their motto was Vce Victis. Thev 
believed only in the enslavement and utter de- 
gradation of the Irish race. To make this end 
sure the estates of the Catholics were again 
confiscated. A fresh horde of English adven- 
turers were poured into the country, and the 
Penal Code was passed. No one has summed 
up the result of the English Conquest with 
greater force than did Lord Clare in his famous 
speech on the Union in 1800. " What, then, was 
the situation of Ireland at the Revolution, and 
what is it at this day? The whole power and 
projperty of the country have been conferred 
by successive monarchs of England upon an 
English colony, composed of three sets of 
English adventurers, who poured into this 
country at the termination of three successive 
rebellions. Confiscation is their common title ; 
and from their first settlement they have been 
hemmed in on every side by the old inhabitants 
of the island, brooding over their discontents 
in sullen indignation." " Confiscation is their 
common title." Confiscation, my Lord, is the 
title of England in Ireland — a title based on 
force, fraud, and robbery. 

I need not dwell upon the Penal Code. The 
religion of the people was proscribed; their 


liberties were taken away, their lands were 
plundered. A single sentence spoken by an 
" Irish " judge in the Penal days will give a 
better idea of this Code than anything I can 
say. "The laws," said this judge, in 1757, "do 
not presume a Papist to exist, nor can they 
breathe without the connivance of Govern- 
ment." In 1772, your predecessor. Lord Town- 
shend, said, " The laws against Popery have so 
far operated, that there is no Popish family at 
this day remaining of any great weight from 
landed property." 

*'The strength of the Party," says Howard, 
in his Popery Cases, "which was the cause of 
these laws, is almost entirely broken to pieces 
in this Kingdom, though, perhaps, their num- 
bers are not decreased ; besides, there is scarcely 
any landed property among them." Finally, 
Mr. Lecky has described the operation of the 
Penal Code with characteristic truth and 
eloquence. "It was intended to degrade and 
impoverish, to destroy in its victims the spring 
and buoyance of enterprise, to dig a deep chasm 
between Catholics and Protestants. These ends 
it fully attained. It formed the social condi- 
tion, it regulated the disposition of property, 
it exercised a most enduring and pernicious 
influence upon the character of the people, and 
some of the worst features of the latter may be 
distinctly traced to its influence. It may be 
possible to find in the Statute books both of 
Protestant and Catholic countries laws corre- 
sponding to most parts of the Irish Penal Code, 
and in some respects surpassing its most atrocious 
provisions, but it is not the less true that that 
Code, taken as a whole, has a character entirely 
distinctive. It was directed, not against the 
few, but against the many. It was not the 


persecution of a sect, but the degradation of a 
nation. It was the instrument employed by a 
conquering race, supported by a neighbouring 
Power, to crush to the dust the people among 
whom they were planted. And indeed, when 
we remember that the greater part of it was 
in force for nearly a century ; that its victims 
formed at least three-fourths of the nation ; 
that its degrading and dividing influence ex- 
tended to every field of social, professional, 
intellectual, and even domestic life ; and that it 
was enacted without the provocation of any re- 
bellion, in defiance of a Treaty which distinctly 
guaranteed the Irish Catholics from any further 
opposition on account of their religion, it may 
be justly regarded as one of the blackest pages 
in the history of persecution." 

For nearly three-quarters of a century after 
the Treaty of Limerick the Catholics were 
beaten to the ground, trampled in the dust. 
Then they began once more to fight for free- 
dom, but made little progress until the neces- 
sities of England forced her to consider their 
claims. Between 1775 and 1781 England was 
engaged in a deadly conflict with her American 
Colonies ; she was also engaged in a conflict 
with her colonists in Ireland, against whom she 
had passed an insane commercial code. In the 
fight against England the English colonists 
joined hands with the native race, and the out- 
come of this union was Catholic relief in 1778 
(when the Catholics were allowed to hold 
landed property). Free Trade in 1779, and above 
all. Legislative Independence in 1782. The Irish 
Protestants, as Burke said, at last discovered 
that they had a country, and that their interests 
were bound up with those of the masses of the 
people among whom they lived. In 1782, as 


your Lordship knows, England declared that 
the independence of the Irish Parliament was 
inviolable. The words of the English Act ran : — 
*' Be it enacted that the right claimed by the 
people of Ireland to be bound only by laws 
enacted by his Majesty and the Parliament of 
that kingdom, in all cases whatever, and to 
have all actions and suits at law, or in equity, 
which may be instituted in that kingdom, 
decided in his Majesty's Courts therein, finally 
and without appeal from thence, shall be, and 
is hereby, declared to be established and ascer- 
tained for ever, and shall at no time hereafter 
be questioned or questionable." Once more 
the question arises, Did the compact of 1782 
give moral sanction to the English connection ; ? 
and once more we are spared the trouble of 
discussing the point, because England broke 
the compact in 1800 and destroyed the Irish 
Parliament. Mr. Lecky has told the story in 
six lines ; — " In the case of Ireland, as truly as 
in the case of Poland, a national Constitution 
was destroyed by a foreign Power, contrary to 
the wishes of the people. In the one case the 
deed was a crime of violence ; in the other it 
was a case of treachery and corruption. In 
both cases a legacy of enduring bitterness was 
the result." Three treaties had been made in 
two and a half centuries between Irish and 
Enghsh— in 1541, in 1691, in 1782. England 
broke them all. If broken faith, my Lord, 
can give a good title, then England's title in 
Ireland rests on a moral basis. The policy of 
broken faith did not end with the Union. The 
promise of a "Kingdom" (so Great Britain 
and Ireland were called) " united " by just laws, 
wise administration, and a common patriotism, 
springing from the enjoyment of common rights 



and common freedom, was not fulfilled. English* 
men cannot plead even the poor excuse that, 
though they destroyed the Irish Parliament, 
they governed Ireland well without it. Good 
government could not have made the Act of 
Union legal and moral, but good government 
could alone be pleaded in extenuation of Eng- 
land's guilt. This plea cannot be allowed. I 
care not, my Lord, from what point of view 
you look at the question — whether from the 
point of view of the Catholic and the tenant, 
or from the point of view of the Protestant 
and the landlord, aye, even from the point 
of view of England herself — the Government 
of England in Ireland during the nineteenth 
century must stand condemned. I will take 
the point of view of the Catholic and the tenant 
first. What were the promises made to the 
Catholics ? They were told that they would 
be emancipated, that they would get fair play, 
that they would receive from the Imperial Par- 
liament a measure of justice which it would 
never be in the power of the Irish Parliament 
to confer upon them. None of these promises 
were kept. In 1802 Lord Kedesdale was sent 
to Ireland as Lord Chancellor. He struck 
the keynote of English policy in the follow- 
ing words : " Catholics must have no political 
power." In 1809 the Prime Minister of the 
day said : *' I cannot conceive a time or a 
change of circumstances which can render 
further concessions to the Catholics consis- 
tent with the safety of the State." These 
declarations of policy are a curious com- 
mentary on the words used by Mr. Pitt in 
1800. " In the Union, Ireland will see the 
avenues to honour, to distinction, and ex- 
alted situations in the general seat of Empire 


opened to all those whose abilities and talents 
enable them to indulge an honourable and 
laudable ambition." 

After a struggle which lasted over a quarter 
of a century Catholic Emancipation was granted, 
when England at length discovered that it was 
safer to surrender than to resist. The policy of 
injustice was tempered by the policy of fear. 
That Catholic Emancipation should have been 
delayed in violation of the promises made at 
the time of the Union, until 1829, and that it 
should have been only granted then under the 
pressure of a formidable revolutionary move- 
ment, was bad enough ; but worse remains. The 
Act was no sooner placed on the Statute Book 
than it was made a dead letter. Mr. Lecky de- 
scribed the government of Ireland in 1833 thus: 
" In 1833 — four years after Emancipation — there 
was not in Ireland a single Catholic judge or 
stipendiary magistrate. All the High Sheriffs, 
the overwhelming majority of the unpaid magis- 
trates and of the grand jurors, the five Inspec- 
tors-General, and the thirty-two Sub-Inspectors 
of the Police were Protestants. The chief towns 
were in the hands of narrow, corrupt, and for 
the most part intensely bigoted Corporations. 
For many years promotion had been steadily 
withheld from those who advocated Catholic 
Emancipation, and the majority of the people 
thus found their bitterest enemies in the fore- 
most places." 

Between 1835 and 184:0 Catholic Emancipation 
ceased to be a dead letter during the short-lived 
Administration of Thomas Drummond. But on 
the fall of the Melbourne Ministry the policy 
of proscription was revived, and the people 
once more saw their bitterest enemies in the 
foremost places. 


I have already said that since 1832— in fact, 
since the Union — there has not been a single 
Catholic Lord Lieutenant, or a single Catholic 
Chief Secretary. There have been fifteen Under 
Secretaries, and only three Catholics among 
them. There have been fourteen Lord Chan- 
cellors, and only two Catholics among them. 

There have been only two Lord Chief Justices, 
only two Chief Justices of the Common Pleas, 
and only two Chief Barons of the Exchequer 
Catholics. "The Castle," says a recent writer, 
" has six great officers of state ; five are Protes- 
tants, one is a Catholic. Of sixteen judges of 
the Superior Courts thirteen are Protestants. 
Of twenty-one County Court judges fifteen are 
Protestants. There were twenty-one Inspectors 
in August last employed by the Estates Commis- 
sioners at salaries of £800 a year each ; every 
one was a Protestant. The Land Commission 
has six commissioners ; three are Catholics in a 
country where the Catholics are seventy per 
cent, of the inhabitants. The Privy Councillors 
are almost exclusively Protestants." 

I need not expand the list. It is notorious 
that the highest positions in the government of 
Ireland have been and are filled by Protestants, 
almost wholly to the exclusion of those who 
professed the religion of the nation. There is 
nothing bigoted in calling attention to these 
facts. The Irish do not want a Catholic Govern- 
ment. They want a National Government. Of 
course a National Government in a country like 
Ireland must, from the nature of the case, be in 
the main a Catholic Government because Ireland 
is in the main a Catholic nation. It has well 
been said that the government of a country 
must partake of the character of the people. 
Mr. Carlile, the first Resident Commissioner 


of " National " education in Ireland, has put 
the point well : — " The Government of any nation 
must necessarily partake of the character, par- 
ticularly of the religious character, of the nation. 
We do not expect to find a Christian Govern- 
ment in a heathen country, nor a heathen 
Government in a Christian country ; a Roman 
Catholic Government in a Protestant country, 
nor a Protestant Government in a Roman 
Catholic country. ... If the people be Pro- 
testant, the Government will be so also ; if 
the people be Roman Catholic, such will be 
the Government ; if the people be both de- 
nominations, so also will the Government. . . . 
Precisely as is the people, so will the governors 
be." Ireland is yet, my Lord, without a National 
University; and the people see, in the refusal 
of the English Parliament to establish a great 
teaching centre vivified by the spirit of Nation- 
ality, that the foreigner rules in the land, and 
that Irish wishes must be subservient to English 

I pass to the tenants' point of view. It goes 
without saying that one of the first duties of 
a Government is to give fair play to the in- 
dustrial pursuits of the people. Laws which 
are fatal to the material progress of a nation 
are only a shade less criminal than laws which 
are fatal to its spiritual progress. The laws 
of England in Ireland throughout almost the 
whole of the nineteenth century have been 
fatal alike to the spiritual and material pro- 
gress of the people. But I am only dealing 
now with the question of material progress. 

Land is the great Irish industry. That being 
so, what are we to say to the Government and 
Parliament which crippled it for over three- 
quarters of a century ? It was proved again 


and again before Select Committees of the 
House of Commons, Select Committees of the 
House of Lords, Royal Commissions, that Irish 
misery and Irish disorder were due to the 
system of land tenure which was upheld by 
English bayonets. Yet not a single Act cal- 
culated to reform this system was placed on 
the Statute Book until seventy years after the 
Union. And even the Act then passed was a 
failure. The English Parliament is not only 
to be charged with neglect in reference to the 
Irish land question, but with incompetence as 
well. "In our very remedies," Mr. Gladstone 
once exclaimed in despair, " we have failed." 
The Land Act of 1870 passed under the pressure 
of a revolutionary organisation, was followed 
by the Land Act of 1881, passed when a reign of 
terror prevailed in Ireland. Nothing can be 
more humiliating than the reason given by 
Lord Salisbury for accepting the Act of 1881 : 
*' In view of the prevailing agitation, and having 
regard to the state of anarchy (in Ireland), I 
cannot recommend my followers to vote against 
the second reading of the Bill." The policy of 
injustice was once more tempered by the policy 
of fear. 

All parties admit that the Land Act of 1881 
did not settle the Irish land question, and the 
party to which your Lordship belongs avow 
that, on the contrary, it only made confusion 
w^orse confounded. A series of Acts followed, 
aiming at the settlement which the Act of '81 
failed to accomplish. There was the Land Pur- 
chase Act of 1885, the Land Tenure Act of 1887, 
and finally there was Mr. Wjmdham's Act of 
1903. What, then, is the record of the English 
Parliament with reference to the encourage- 
ment of the one great Irish industry — land? 


Utter neglect from 1800 to 1870 ; complete 
failure from 1870 to 1881 ; only partial success 
from 1881 to 1903. 

The century had almost reached its close 
before anything effective was done to regulate 
the prosperous management of an industry on 
which the material well-being of the country 
depended. Is this a record which ought to 
inspire the Irish people with confidence in the 
English Parliament? 

I now turn from the point of view of the 
Catholics and the tenants to the point of view 
of the Protestants and the landlords. At the 
time of the LTnion England promised to main- 
tain the Protestant Episcopalian State Church 
in Ireland "for ever." She kept her word for 
three-quarters of a century, and then broke 
it. In 1869 the State Church was disestablished 
under the pressure of rebellious agitation. Eng- 
land had planted the Protestants in Ireland as 
a " garrison." The State Church was one of 
their strongholds. England swept it away, in 
defiance of their protests, to pacify the " rebels." 
She abandoned her allies in order to make peace 
over their heads with the "common enemy." 
This establishment was a breach of faith, 
a violation of legal and honourable obligations. 

The Land System was another stronghold of 
the " garrison." England upheld it in all its 
strength for seventy years, and then gave way 
once more under rebellious pressure, sacrificing 
her friends to appease her enemies. In 1881 
another step was taken in the policy of sur- 
render, and the Land System was shaken to its 
foundation. Since then all parties in England 
have acquiesced in the determination to trans- 
fer the landed property of Ireland from the 
" garrison " to the " rebels." In the days of old 


the landed property of Ireland was transferred 
from the "rebels" to the "garrison." That policy 
is now being reversed. It would seem as if 
England must always be confiscating something 
in the " Sister Isle." In 1885 a Eef orm Act was 
passed, throwing electoral power into the hands 
of the masses, and crippling the influence of 
the "loyalists." Worst of all, in 1898 the Local 
Government Act was passed, transferring the 
administration of local affairs from the " garri- 
son " to the " rebels." The tendency of English 
legislation during the past twenty years has been 
hostile to the supremacy of the " loyal " party. 
The old policy of ruling Ireland by the Pro- 
testant Ascendency in the English interest, so 
as to make the connection secure, has been 
given up ; and the only alternative now left to 
the "LoyaHsts" is to make peace with the 
"rebels" or to leave the country. This is the 
point of view of the Protestants and landlords. 
Nor have they the poor consolation of thinking 
that it is only their enemies the English Kadicals 
who have, as they say, sapped the foundations 
of their power. Their friends the EngHsh Tories 
have been almost equally bad. The greatest 
Irish revolutionary measures were passed by 
Tories: the Catholic Belief Act of 1793, the 
Catholic Eelief Act of 1829, and, above all, the 
Local Government Act of 1898. It has well 
been said that the Irish Catholic tenant in the 
days of his tribulation looked to the West for 
succour. The Irish Protestant landlord will tell 
you that his class in the day of their tribulation 
cannot look to the East for support. My Lord, 
the Irish Catholics do not love you ; the Irish 
tenants do not love you ; the Irish Protestants 
do not love you ; the Irish landlords do not love 
you. A hundred years of "Union" has served 


only to fill tlie minds of every section of the 
population — except the mere place-hunters — 
with distrust of England. 

Lastly, let me take the point of view of 
Englishmen themselves. The ultra-Tory objects 
to every measure of reform ]3assed since 1829, 
including the Act of 1829 itself. He condemns 
the policy of concession root and branch. He 
describes it as a policy of surrender and 
betrayal. But what say moderate Liberals and 
moderate Conservatives? They have nothing 
to say in defence of English policy from 1800 
to 1829, and not much to say in defence of 
it from 1829 to 1869. Liberals, of course, 
approve of the Church Act of 1869, and Con- 
servatives do not at all events dream of repeal- 
ing it. Conservatives still condemn the Land 
Act of 1870 as " an unjust interference with the 
rights of property " ; and Liberals admit that 
it was a failure. Again, Conservatives condemn 
the Land Act of 1881, and Liberals admit that 
it has not proved, as they believed it would 
prove, a final settlement of the land question. 

Between 1881 and the present time, Ireland, 
Conservatives and Liberals allow, has remained 
in a constant state of unrest. 

Li a word, every Englishman of intelligence, 
knowledge, and sense is forced to recognise that 
the Union is a failure. No one can be more 
explicit on the point than the eminent Unionist, 
Mr. Dicey. He says : " Eighty-six years have 
elapsed since the conclusion of the Treaty of 
Union between England and Ireland. The two 
countries do not yet form a united nation. Irish 
disaffection to England is, if not deeper, more 
widespread than in 1800. An Act meant by its 
authors to be a source of the prosperity and 
concord which, though slowly, followed upon 


the Union of Scotland, has not made Ireland 
rich, has not put an end to Irish lawlessness, 
has not terminated the feud between Pro- 
testants and Catholics, has not raised the 
position of Irish tenants, has not taken away 
the causes of Irish discontent, and has, there- 
fore, not removed Irish disloyalty." 

"We have made Ireland," wrote another 
English publicist, Joseph Kay — "I say it de- 
liberately — we have made Ireland the most 
miserable and degraded country in the world. 
All the world is crying shame on us, but we are 
equally callous to the ignominy and to the 
results of our misgovernment." Finally, Lord 
John Russell has described the character of 
English rule in Ireland since the Union in a 
single sentence : " Your oppressions have taught 
the Irish to hate, your concessions to brave you ; 
you have shown them how scanty is the stream 
of your justice, and how full the tribute of 
your fears." To sum up : the Union, immoral 
in its inception, has not been redeemed from 
its original infamy by the wisdom and justice 
of the Legislative Body, which, in defiance of 
treaty obligations, still usurps the rights of the 
Irish Parliament. This is the Irish case. In 
the words of Mr. Gladstone, the Union may have 
the force of law — English law — but it does not 
rest on a moral basis. How, then (if at all), can 
moral sanction be given to the connection of 
the two countries? I shall now try to answer 
this question. 

"Sentiment," says Mr. Chamberlain, "is, indeed, 
a great and potent factor in the history of the 
world ; and how splendid is the sentiment which 
unites men of kindred blood and kindred faith." 


** The sentiment of nationality," says Mr. 
Lecky, "is one of the strongest and most re- 
spectable by which human beings are actuated. 
No other has produced a greater amount of 
heroism and self-sacrifice, and no other, when 
it has been seriously outraged, leaves behind 
it such dangerous discontent." 

The Irish question, my Lord, is a question of 
sentiment — of national sentiment. 

"The sentiment of nationality," says Mr. 
Lecky, "lies at the root of Irish discontent." 

"The real root of Irish disaffection," says 
Mr. Goldwin Smith, "is the want of national 
institutions, of a national capital, of any objects 
of national reverence and attachment, and, con- 
sequently, of anything deserving to be called 
national life. The greatness of England is 
nothing to the Irish. Her history is nothing or 
worse. The success of Irishmen in London con- 
soles the Irish no more than the success of 
Italian adventurers in foreign countries (which 
was very remarkable) consoled the Italian 
people. The drawing off of Irish talent, in 
fact, turns to an additional grievance in their 
mind. Dublin is a modern Tara ; a metropolis 
from which the glory has departed; and the 
Viceroyalty, though it pleases some of the 
tradesmen, fails altogether to satisfy the people. 
"'In Ireland we can make no appeal to pa- 
triotism ; we can have no patriotic sentiments 
in our school books, no patriotic emblems in our 
schools, because in Ireland everything patriotic 
is rebellious.' These were the words uttered in 
my hearing, not by a complaining demagogue, 
but by a desponding statesman." 

What Ireland wants, my Lord, is a Government 
that can "appeal to Irish patriotism" — a Govern- 
ment that can share in the feelings by which 


the nation is animated as the page of history 
is opened revealing the story of the past, from 
the days when Ireland was a centre of European 
civilisation, down through the ages when Irish- 
men, true to ancient memories, ancient tra- 
ditions, and ancient beliefs, fought for faith 
and fatherland, triumphing over persecution, 
surviving wars of extermination, and preserving, 
amid the calamities of conquest, their race, 
their religion, and their nationality. If such 
a Government is inconsistent with the main- 
tenance of the English connection, then the 
English connection stands condemned. Is such 
a Government inconsistent with the maintenance 
of the English connection? That is the problem 
which statesmen have to solve. Ireland has 
made her offer. By the voice of O'Connell, by 
the voice of Parnell, she has expressed her 
willingness to abide by the principle of the 
settlement of 1782, a common King and an 
Irish Parliament, though, as Mr. Parnell said, 
*' No man has a right to put a boundary to the 
march of a nation." Will England also abide 
by her pledged word ? Will she at length show 
that treaty obligations are binding on her con- 
science, and that instincts of honour are not 
foreign to the councils of an English Minister? 
Is there no man in England to-day who can 
redeem the character of his country, and close 
the most disgraceful chapter in her history by 
making peace with Ireland ? 

Peace can be made on the principle of the 
settlement of 1782, but on no other conditions. 
The details of the Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 
1893 are swept away. " A clean slate," with the 
words on the top, "A common King and an 
Irish Parliament," lies before the English 
Minister. What will he write on it? An 


English politician of Cabinet rank said to me 
some four or five years ago : "I do not think 
that there would now be an insurmountable 
objection to the establishment of an Irish 
Parliament if it could only be shown how the 
thing can be done. The crux of the problem 
is in the exclusion or retention of the Irish 
members. If they are excluded it will be called 
* separation,' and how are they to be retained ? 
What workable machinery can be devised by 
which their retention will not convey to the 
English mind the idea that they are not only to 
legislate for their own country, but that they 
are to have a voice in English legislation as 
well." How, my Lord, are these details to be 
worked out ? That is the point. Mr. Gladstone 
proposed long ago, that the Irish question 
should not be made a party question ; that 
statesmen of all parties should come together 
to consider the best means for settling it. As- 
suredly every sensible Englishman must now 
be of opinion that this was a wise proposal. 

So long as Ireland is made the battle-ground 
of English parties, so long will the relations 
between the two countries remain unsatis- 
factory. Ireland must be treated as a separate 
national entity, lying outside the circle of 
English party politics. The question between 
Ireland and England is a question of inter- 
national, not of domestic politics. It is a 
question of bringing into partnership with 
England a nation which is separated from her 
by sentiments of race and of religion, and above 
all by history. The Irish question is not a 
question of the removal of material grievances ; 
it is a question of the gratification of national 
aspirations ; in a word, of the establishment of 
institutions which can appeal to Irish patriotism. 


An English Parliament never can appeal to 
Irish patriotism, and if England refuses to re- 
establish an Irish Parliament (which can so 
appeal), then the relation between the two 
countries must remain one of force upon the 
side of England, and of reluctant submission 
upon the side of Ireland to the end of the 
chapter. Is this a relation that appeals to the 
principles of liberty which we are told English- 
men love ? 

"The perfected Empire-State of the future," 
to quote the words of Mr. Wyndham, with a 
slight alteration, indicated by capitals, "to 
evoke universal allegiance must appeal " to 
(THE) "particular sentiment" (OF EVERY 

The particular sentiment of the Irish nation 
is expressed in the demand for the government 
of the country by an Irish Parliament and an 
Irish Executive, representing Irish national 
opinion. It is idle to suppose that if this 
sentiment, this principle — is once recognised, 
there can be any insurmountable difficulty in 
the settlement of details. Let twelve Com- 
missioners appointed by England, and twelve 
Commissioners appointed by Ireland meet in 
friendly conference to discuss these details, and 
all difficulties will soon be brushed aside. 

" Is this question above the stature of the 
right honourable gentleman?" exclaimed Mr. 
Bright once in the House of Commons, speaking 
on the Irish land question, and pointing to Mr. 
Gladstone. ... It is idle to pretend that the 
settlement of the details of a measure for the 
re-establishment of an Irish Parliament is above 
the stature of modern statesmanship, if English- 
men would only recognise the fact that this 
measure is necessary to make a lasting peace 


between England and Ireland. The Treaty of 
1782 pledging England to uphold the Parlia- 
mentary institutions which had existed for 
centuries in Ireland, was made between two 
nations. It is a sound principle of international 
law that a treaty made between two nations 
cannot be revoked or altered without the con- 
sent of both. The Union, every one knows, was 
carried by force and fraud, and is not, therefore, 
binding on the conscience of the Irish people. 
If either of the contracting parties desires an 
alteration in the treaty of 1782, the question 
must be freely and fairly discussed in a repre- 
sentative conference. It may be that Ireland 
will not now agree to any alteration in the 
Treaty of 1782, that she will insist on the repeal 
of the Union pvire and simple, plus the measures 
of reform which she has since forced through 
the English Parliament ; or it may be that she 
is still willing to accept the ]Dosition taken up 
by Mr. Butt in 1870, and to agree to a federal 
union with England. In the first case, England 
is bound by law, as well as in honour, to give way. 
If she refuses, then the relation between the two 
countries must remain hostile and irritating. 
In the second case (that is, if Ireland is willing 
to consider the advisability of any alteration 
in the settlement of 1782), the course is, as I 
have said, a conference between the representa- 
tives of both nations. The question for England 
to consider is whether Ireland is to be a willing 
or unwilling partner in a common Empire 
(which shall not be based on the principle of 
" always holding somebody down," but on the 
principle of the federation of free nations). . . . 
Whatever England may do, my Lord, Ireland 
will not despair. The history of the past fills 
us with courage and with hope. Every demand 


for justice made By Ireland has "presented 
"insurmountable objections" to the English 

" Allow Catholics to hold landed property and 
they will subvert the State," was the cry in 1778. 
" Give Catholics the Elective Franchise and they 
will overturn the Constitution," was the cry 
in 1793. "Admit Catholics to Parliament, and 
the foundation of our Protestant Empire will 
crumble to pieces," was the cry in 1829. 

" Disestablishment is sacrilege, land reform 
spoliation, the enfranchisement of the masses 
ruin," were the cries of later years. But Ireland 
triumphed over them all, and she will triumph 
still. The question, my Lord, is, not whether an 
Irish Parliament will be re-established or no, 
but whether it will come in a moment of peace, 
as a recognition of Irish national rights, or, 
whether it will come in a time of trouble and 
turmoil (like the concessions of old), as a tribute 
to the force of " lawlessness " and " treason." 

I am, my Lord, 

Faithfully yours, 

Axn^il, 1905. 


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